service order

The New Service Order

Tim Cool warns against a stale sameness in our service orders:

I was raised in a “traditional” evangelical church (what does that even mean?!?!). The dress code was coat and tie for men…and boys and dresses or skirts for the other gender. The choir (does every one know what a choir is…just checking) would typically wear robes that matched and we sang from a hymnal. Now having been a music major at a Christian college, I know all about hymns because I took “Hymnology” as part of my required course work. I bet you did not even realize there was such class. Here is a funny aside, I studied hymns in college, and yet just recently, at the age of 18, my son sang his first song from a hymnal. He thought it was so unique. Go figure.

These were the norms.

That is how church was done.

Then came the Jesus Movement of the 1960’s…then the Maranatha crowd in the 70’s which was the predecessor of the Seeker Sensitive craze (sometimes referred to as the “Church Growth” movement). That was the buzz during the 1980’s and into much of the 1990’s. Since that time we have seen a number of other shifts such as Missional, Ancient/Future, Emerging, New Reformists, Postmodern, Prosperity (Lord have mercy!!!), and many others.

I have been able to worship with and serve in most of these flavors and varieties of traditions and movements. In fact, I have personally transitioned through many of these and have been guilty of criticizing or disparaging how some groups just don’t “get it”…what ever “it” is. I recall sitting in a service at a former church whose service was so predictable and wondering why we did the same things over and over. Here is the typical order of service:

1. Prelude

2. Call to worship

3. Three Hymns (or 2 hymns and a “gospel Chorus” usually written by Bill Gaither)

4. Offering with either instrumental or choral offertory

5. Doxology

6. Musical Special

7. Sermon

8. Alter Call

9. Closing Hymn

10. Postlude

Don’t get me wrong or take offense if the above resembles your church…if that works in your context, then be the best at it you can be. But I went through a phase when I thought that church was in a rut. I would say to Lisa, “Why can’t they mix it up. Why don’t they do something creative?” As a family, we transitioned to churches that were more creative. Casual. Unique. Out-of-the-box. “Contemporary”…or so we thought.

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